Driving and Medical Marijuana in Michigan

Our society is experiencing a rising prevalence of driving under the influence of illegal and medicinal drugs. It has been written that one in three motor vehicle fatalities with known drug test results tested positive for drugs in 2009. Data from road traffic arrests and fatalities indicate that, after alcohol, marijuana is the most frequently detected psychoactive substance among driving populations. Marijuana has been shown to impair performance on driving simulator tasks and on open and closed driving courses for up to approximately 3 hours. Michigan law prohibits any person to drive a motor vehicle after consuming or ingesting alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both which impairs that person’s ability to drive. A measure of intoxication from the consumption of alcohol is commonly performed with a breath test or blood test. The results are expressed in grams as a percentage of the breath or blood. The legal limit in Michigan is .08 grams or more per 100 milliliters of blood or per 210 liters of breath. But what about driving of a vehicle by a person who may legally smoke marijuana? Presently Michigan is one of 17 states that have a zero tolerance law that makes it unlawful for a person to operate a motor vehicle with any amount of a controlled substance in their body. Most people believe that THC stays in your body for approximately thirty days but that is not true. As THC is being broken down in a person’s body a natural byproduct is created called a metabolite also known as Carboxy-THC. That metabolite, which is what is tested for in common drug tests, is not THC and therefore does not count for purposes of the driving with the presence of THC. Nor does the metabolite cause any type of impairment. This interpretation of the law occurred in June of 2010. Prior to that date, even the presence of Carboxy-THC in a person’s body while driving was illegal. Actual THC will remain in a person’s blood between three and six hours depending upon how much was ingested, the manner of intake, body fat percentage and frequency of past use. Therefore it is illegal to drive a vehicle in Michigan within at least three hours after smoking marijuana.

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There are some arguments against Michigan’s Zero Tolerance law. First, just because a person has a small amount of THC in their body does not mean their driving would be adversely affected. This is a public policy argument. Also, the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees that all persons in the country shall enjoy equal protection of the laws. There is a rational argument that MMMA patients are not being treated equally and fairly in violation of the 14thAmendment because they are more likely to have THC in the body and therefore treated differently than persons who are not MMMA card holders. This argumenthas been accepted by at least one judge in Michigan and will soon be reviewed by higher Michigan courts. That is another example of how our new medical marijuana law in its infancy is evolving in its interpretation and enforcement.

Attorney Morris has enjoyed a very successful and distinguished career as a trial lawyer providing high quality legal representation in the area of state and federal criminal defense for 19 years. He is known for his trial preparation by fellow attorneys, judges and clients alike. As a trial attorney, he is dedicated to attaining justice in every case, and is prepared to take on complex legal issues with success. Barton and his law firm pride themselves on obtaining results for their clients that other attorneys cannot.

Not only does Barton Morris have extensive experience, he also engages in continuing legal education to provide the highest quality legal services. Barton has received specialized scientific training through the American Chemical Society. He attended the prestigious Trial Lawyers College and serves on its Alumni Association Board of Directors. Barton Morris is also a board member of several distinguished legal associations including the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys, and the DUI Defense Lawyer’s Association Justice Foundation. He is also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and has also graduated from their National Criminal Defense Trial College in Macon, Georgia.

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Barton Morris was chosen as a Top Lawyer of Metro Detroit for 2012, 2013 & 2014 for DUI/DWI and criminal defense by DBusiness Magazine and Hour Magazine. Barton Morris was also chosen as a Super Lawyer in Criminal Defense for 2014-2017 and Barton Morris is the only Lawyer in Michigan designated by the American Chemical Society as a “Forensic Lawyer-Scientist”

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November 12th, 2011|